"My Voice is who I am" - Vocal Improvisation Group Work with Healthy Community-Dwelling Older Adults


  • Aviya Riabzev Bar-Ilan University, Israel
  • Ayelet Dassa Bar-Ilan University, Israel
  • Ehud Bodner Bar-Ilan University, Israel




Community-dwelling, older adults, music therapy, vocal improvisation, well-being.


Background: Vocal improvisation is known as beneficial in promoting well-being, yet not much is known about using vocal improvisation with healthy older adults. While the emphasis in music therapy on studying interventions with clinical populations of older adults is important, the challenges and stressors facing healthy older adults require more investigation.

Methods: This qualitative study analyzed the experiences of 54 older adults, ranging between 60 and 93 years (M=71.07), who participated in 12 weekly vocal improvisation group meetings that incorporated various voice improvisation techniques. Data was gathered using qualitative semi-structured group interviews with 12 focus groups (pre- and post-intervention).

Results: A qualitative content analysis revealed that the vocal improvisations created the sense of an open space where participants could express and explore their own voices. The intervention has changed their attitudes regarding their own voices and led to meaningful personal experiences and new self-discoveries. The participants described experiencing a significant emotional process during the group work and reported experiencing self-exploration, and improvements in their self-beliefs, attitudes regarding their own voices, and their well-being.

Conclusions: Vocal improvisation group intervention was experienced as beneficial for the well-being of healthy community-dwelling older adults.

Author Biographies

Aviya Riabzev, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Aviya Riabzev. Music Therapist, Ph.D., Graduated Music therapy Ph.D program at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Aviya has clinical experience working with children with autism, women coping with sexual abuse, and with older adults. Her research focuses on the impact of vocal group work on the well-being of older adults and on women coping with complex PTSD.

Ayelet Dassa, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Ayelet Dassa. Music Therapist, Ph.D., Head of Music Therapy M.A Program at Bar-Ilan University. Teaches in different programs of geriatric training, has been working with people with dementia for the past twenty years, and has experience with stroke patients, Parkinson disease and chronic psychiatric elderly. Her research focuses on the effect of music on people with dementia and their family caregivers in nursing home settings and at home.

Ehud Bodner, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Ehud Bodner. A full professor of psychology, the head of the Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences and staff member at the Department of music - at Bar Ilan University, Israel. A Clinical and a Medical Psychologist and a supervisor in both fields with vast clinical experience working with younger and older patients, suffering from various anxiety disorders, somatization, depression, and personality disorders. In the field of music he is mainly focused on emotion regulation through music in young and older adults. He also concentrates on models delineating the relationship between ageism and other perceptions of aging, personal resources and various aspects of health and mental health among older adults, and tries to uncover factors associated with end of life anxieties, and with time perceptions. His studies include longitudinal designs and diaries. Thus far he has published over 120 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 9 chapters in books.

Photo of the three authors Riabzev, Dassa, and Bodner



How to Cite

Riabzev, A., Dassa, A., & Bodner, E. (2022). "My Voice is who I am" - Vocal Improvisation Group Work with Healthy Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.15845/voices.v22i1.3125